In this week’s spotlight I would like to discuss cultural relativism, something I think of as very close to, if not synonymous, with moral agnosticism. For I believe that fundamentally there are certain human rights that should exist everywhere in the world, regardless of so-called customs. Further, I am convinced that when we allow or justify the deprivation of these rights, by precedent we rob ourselves of the integrity that all life deserves. Indeed, by allowing human atrocities, we invite them upon ourselves if by nothing other than our tacit consent.
There are many today who insist that there is no evil in the world—that evil is an illusion. Some go so far as to argue that deals were made before this incarnate life, whereby certain spirits agreed to come into the world and carry out cruel deeds for the sake of teaching us something. Others demand that ‘right’ be defined by custom and culture, so to them killings and mutilations are just, if honorable within the culture.
The horrific if not evil, then what?
We live at a time when horrendous events are often shown in full color on television or the Internet. We hear about brutal beheadings, child abuse, torture, and more—all carried out on the innocent nearly every day.
In my opinion, it’s extremely hard to imagine anyone concluding that these acts are in any way deserving of any reaction short of contempt and disgust. Indeed, quoting from the Rational Life in an Irrational Society, “Nothing can corrupt or disintegrate a culture or a man’s character as thoroughly as does the precept of moral agnosticism, the idea that one must never pass moral judgment on others, that one must be morally tolerant of anything, that the good consists of never distinguishing good from evil.”
I accept the admonishment, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” This however does not prevent me from discerning good from evil, nor for that matter, from condemning acts of a barbaric nature. In fact, quite honestly, in the end, whatever or wherever that might be, when I take my last breath, I want to think that I defended the helpless, the abused, the innocent—and stood for something more than moral agnosticism—how about you?